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Charles T. Ganz

Courts often admit questionable psychological tests

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2020 | Criminal Defense

Researchers have decided that courts in Texas and all over the country do not properly assess psychological tests or IQ tests, resulting in less-than-reliable science being admitted as evidence. There is wide variance among the psychological tests that are admitted in court cases, said a psychology professor who co-authored the study. The researchers examined hundreds of different tests and found that only 40% of those that were used received favorable marks from the psychological and scientific realms. Almost 25% of the tests used have been found unreliable.

These tests may have a significant impact in a criminal case, but the research found that the a test’s validity was challenged in fewer than 3% of cases. The study looked at 876 cases brought from 2016 to 2018. The most common test used was the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, which is generally viewed positively by professionals. The second most common test used was the inkblot or Rorschach test. Some psychologists and scientists believe that the Rorschach test is too subjective and ambiguous for use at trial.

Because they are not experts in psychology, judges and lawyers are forced to rely on others to rate the psychological tests they present during trial. According to a criminal defense attorney, the psychology industry’s unwillingness to regulate itself causes confusion when its tests are used in criminal trials.

In a case where a person is charged with a crime in Texas, he or she may want to consult with a criminal defense attorney. An attorney who has experience in criminal defense law might help by reviewing the facts of the case and arguing against the admissibility of prosecution evidence, for example, or attempting to attack weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case. A defense attorney may be able to introduce psychological evidence if it is potentially beneficial to the client or argue against psychological evidence offered by prosecutors.